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Danny Boy’s Famous Original Pizza with Daniel Holzman

Daniel Holzman Headshot
Episode #: 183
Danny Boy's Famous Original Pizza with Daniel Holzman

Guest: Daniel Holzman
Topics: Danny Boy’s Famous Original Pizza, restaurant industry


Chris Ressa 0:00
This is Retail Retold, the story of how that store ended up in your neighborhood. I’m your host, Chris Ressa, and I invite you to join my conversation with some of the retail industry’s biggest influencers. This podcast is brought to you by DLC Management.

Welcome to Retail Retold, everyone. Today I’m joined by Chef Daniel Holtzman, the owner of Danny Boy’s Famous Original Pizza in Los Angeles. I’m excited for him to be here. Welcome to the show.

Daniel Holtzman 0:33
Thanks for having me, where we’re talking from 3000 miles apart. So it’s miracle.

Ressa 0:37
It’s a miracle. So truly excited for you to be here. Daniel, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Holtzman 0:50
What do I do? I’m trying to figure that out. I guess, I grew up in New York City. I fell in love with working in restaurants from a very, very young age, kind of like crime of opportunity. You know, got into the job as a delivery boy to a pizzeria and then started working as a delivery boy to a Mexican restaurant, found my way into the kitchen. got really lucky, a friend of mine from high school worked in, or her father was the kind of boss of a really fancy French restaurant.

So I got to work there when I was very young and got exposed to that and, you know, got a lot of positive feedback from folks around saying, wow, you’re so young, and you’re working with this fancy restaurant. So I stuck with it. And I opened my case, I opened my first restaurant in my kind of like mid-late 20s in San Francisco and then it didn’t work at all. So I moved to New York, but we opened a restaurant with my best friend, called Meatball Shop, which was quite popular.

And folks, we opened a few of them when we open seven or eight in kind of rapid succession. And most recently, I find myself living in Los Angeles, where my big brother lives with two very cute babies, who I spend a lot of time with, and my wife. And I opened this pizzeria about a year ago now. I think we’re coming up on our one year anniversary, which is, time flies. We’re working every day. Yeah, I make pizza every single day, actually stretch top, and put the pizza in the oven.

Ressa 2:36
First, was this the first? Was this the first restaurant that you owned?

Holtzman 2:49
The pizzeria? No, not my first restaurant. I was saying when I was about 27, I opened the restaurant San Francisco that I had kind of a little piece of, you know, most of the time. When, you know, I guess everybody’s got a different path. But, you know, I didn’t have any, I didn’t have a lot of dough. So not a lot of cash. Not a lot of dough in cash. Not a lot of cash. Now, a lot of dough. Just like a pizza joke. I owned like 10% of the original restaurant, you know what I mean?

Like, I was the chef partner, they gave me a 10% stake. That was my first restaurant. And then when we opened the meatball shop, my partner Michael and I, you know, we split the ownership 50/50. And then, and then minus whatever we were, you know, from individual restaurants, had to sell off to raise the capital for individual restaurants.

That was the first restaurant where it was really like, we wrote the business plan and raised the cash and, you know, went through that process completely ourselves without, you know, without being like a minority partner with someone leading away. And then, yeah, so I’ve kind of owned restaurants in different iterations of what that means for the last 50 years or so. 20 years.

Ressa 4:06
Got it. So I think the the restaurant industry is fascinating to me, we have a bunch of restaurant tours that come on the show all the time. And you know, we went through this crazy time at restaurants, you opened a new restaurant during a pretty wild time to open up a restaurant.

And now we’re going through with food pricing and whatnot. We’re going through another crazy time for restaurants. You know, tell me the level, what is the state of the restaurant business right now the restaurant industry?

Holtzman 4:46
You know, I feel like the restaurant industry is in a perpetual kind of Renaissance where, you know, it’s just, there’s always a, there’s always a massive kind of like headwind, and either you’re paddling your ass off or you’re getting kind of like swept away. And that’s just the state of, that’s just the status quo for restaurants in general. And then that headwind sometimes is a bit of a tornado, like we saw in the last year or so. Or it can be just kind of a mild, frustrating annoyance.

But the restaurant industry is never a coast, you can never kind of coast along, unfortunately. And so, you know, that’s why so many restaurants are constantly changing hands and going out of business. And folks don’t quite make it over the kind of like, Capitol, Capitol Hill that you need to get going. I’d say that right now is really great, you know, it’s a great moment of opportunity for the restaurant business. If you’re in the business, there’s a lot of opportunity out there.

I think, you know, ultimately, it’s always the best operators with the best concepts and the most passion and hardest working will come out on top. That’s the fun, the fun thing about the restaurant business is like, it really is a, it’s very unforgiving.

And so you know exactly how hard you’re working and how well you’re doing. Like, when you’re not doing well, it tells you right away. And there’s no excuses. So, you know, one restaurant is going into business, one restaurant is thriving, and there’s no question why it’s like, one is better than the other?

Ressa 6:38
Sure. One of the things that I do say though today is, I think restaurants have, it’s become, I think every day it gets harder, because I think what people think of with a good restaurant, I think it starts with the food. I think that’s just the table stakes today. Like, if you don’t have good food, you better not even like try, right? Like, that’s just the table stakes, that doesn’t make a restaurant great anymore. It’s a part of it, right? Like, I remember, you’re in the pizza business.

But we always used to say, and we deal with a lot of pizza operators, the first step into having a successful pizza place, you need to make really good pizza. I think there’s still a lot of truth to that.

But I also think it’s, it’s more than that now, right, depending on what sector of restaurant you play in, whether that’s on the higher end, and it’s really about the experience, whether it’s on, you know, a lower end, and it’s really, you know, about the convenience, or the tech enabled restaurant, there’s a lot of different things happening in the restaurant, and one of the things I keep coming to is, it’s not just about the food anymore.

Holtzman 7:58
I don’t disagree with you, although, you know, it’s hard because I’m 43 years old. So, you know, my, I don’t really have like 1000 years of experience, or 100 years of vision to kind of see exactly what it really was like to have a restaurant in the 40s or the 50s, in the 60s. You know, what I can say is that more people eat at restaurants and fewer people cook at home than ever before. So there are more customers. And that’s because there’s going to be a good thing.

You know, I think that the way that people interact with restaurants and eat, and choose restaurants has changed really quickly. And so there’s been a big adjustment, which we have to kind of understand. And I think that for a lot of, you know, that what I like to say is like, look, man, what I said was, for the last 10 years, the restaurant industry has outpaced population growth by 10 to one. So restaurant openings have grown faster. So, you know, there were just more seats than they were asked us to put in them.

Ressa 9:11
Wow, is that the stat? I’ve never heard that before.

Holtzman 9:15
That’s what I heard, and I’ve regurgitated, I haven’t actually done the math, but you know, in the name like Legis, the early 2000s, something like that, mid 2000s, you started to see capital infusions into restaurant groups that didn’t happen before. Like, you know, back in the day, a restaurant was kind of not a worthwhile investment. So folks wouldn’t consider putting, what do they call that, capital? There’s like a, there’s a word for that. I’m just, it’s early in the morning in LA so my brain isn’t quite working.

But you couldn’t get, you know, private equity or, or bank loans, that was just too risky. Considered too risky. And then, you know, a couple of events kind of changed all that, we started to see that there was an opportunity where the, like, McDonald’s in the world, you know, big kind of a big group started to lose their foothold, and maybe the people started to want some other options.

You know, there was like a big artisan movement, where a lot of folks were talking about, you know, like handmade artisan craft, and so kind of like, the bigger companies started to lose popularity, and there was this opportunity for the smaller companies to kind of grab some market share.

And between that, and, you know, there were a couple of things like Chipotle for a minute, there was trading at like, 60 to one earnings, you know, and then, you know, everybody’s talking about Shake Shack going public, that was more recently, but there’s, there’s a lot of, oh, we see a path to investing in restaurants.

And then you know, seeing that, you know, 5, 10 year capital horizon, where we get a lot of cash out, so it’s worth putting it in, and then all of a sudden, everybody’s getting a lot of money, with the caveat that they got to open a bunch of restaurants, and they’ve got a, you know, private equity company on their board saying, you got to take me in.

For me, for real estate, they’re fighting for the, you know, and they’re saying, well, I don’t know if this is really sustainable financially, for us to pay this top dollar rent plus these price increases with the understanding that like, you can’t raise your prices in a restaurant, at the at the, at the at, you can’t raise your prices at a restaurant consistently with inflation, cost of living, and inflation, you know, your cost of your rent increase. So you wind up slowly, but surely, kind of, you know, etching into your cheat, your profit center.

And that, you know, that became a big challenge, coupled with computers and credit cards, right. So like, at the same time, that’s all happening. You’ve got, you’ve got credit cards, replacing cash for 80%, 70% of sales, for most restaurants, right? In between credit cards and computers, the government knows exactly how much cash you’re bringing in. So like, I had a friend that had like, 30, 40, diners in Jersey, and I was like, went around with your diner business, he was like, you know, taxes, all of a sudden, we had to start paying taxes, because, you know, the restaurant business wasn’t always 100% aboveboard business.

A lot of folks were, you know, even the top tier restaurants were, the waiters weren’t claiming their tips, as you know, as income for income tax purposes. So they were getting paid 25, 30% more than, you know, they took a 25, 30% pay decrease, when they started having to pay taxes, which happens when you have credit card, and computer, you know, transaction details, you can see exactly how much money came in, the government wants it.

So like, all of a sudden, you’ve got people paying higher rents, you got the government taking a bunch of cash that they weren’t taking before, whether they should have or not. And then, you know, the shift towards all of this happening because people started replacing their home cooked meals with these restaurant meal. So restaurants, when I was a kid even, was a special occasion meal, or like only rich people went to restaurants. And then where, it was McDonald’s, then all the sudden operators came in and said, well, wait a second, wait, people don’t want to cook at home, we can make inexpensive meals that are good quality to replace.

It’s, that was great if people stood rest, there was like this giant proliferation. And then the apps happened. And all of a sudden, people just stopped going out very suddenly. So it was like a lot of restaurants that are operating on a very thin margin. And then the people stopped going out. And so the whole thing kind of was really a house of cards that was starting to teeter right before the pandemic.

You know, before the pandemic, we were all sitting around going this is not sustainable. Restaurants, the restaurant business is not sustainable. The Prophet used to be gold standard profit was 20%. And then everybody was talking about if you can get 8%, you’re in great shape. And obviously, there are exceptions to the rule. But like, you know, if you’re a betting man, and you’re opening a business, you know, you want to bet that you’re going to be in the top 3% And that’s the only way you’re going to survive and otherwise you’re going to be shoveling shit. Well, you know, I have a lot of confidence in myself, but like, I also don’t love shoveling shit.

So that’s where that’s kind of where we were a few years ago. So I think that the pandemic while it was obviously devastating tons of folks had you know, I mean, forget the loss of life, but also just you know, it would just it just devastated so many people. So I don’t want to say it was a good thing.

But certainly in the restaurant industry, it was not the only was not the only reason that the restaurant industry needed or you know, had a resizing rebirth but it was a catalyst that or was a you know, it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back on a on a on a resizing that was in it was happening was happening either way. It was just it was just moving faster, because all of a sudden, you know, then really nobody came out to restaurants and we had to close.

Ressa 15:35
Got it.

Holtzman 15:38
Basically, it’s a ship business. It’s a ship, just a ship business. And I think about it every day. I love working in restaurants. I love it. I have so much fun. I love my team. I work with great guys. They’re just, it’s I have a group I have I have fun at work. I eat delicious food, I feed people, they have a great time my customers are happy. And I’m, I’m not a rich man.

And I don’t need to be rich, I don’t want to be rich man. And I’m happy with what I have. So it’s wonderful for me. But like, you know, for all like the business minded folks that are thinking that like we should get into this business. It’s just it’s a challenging business. And it’s not the easiest one and I think it’s you know, maybe you should think twice.

Ressa 16:22
Yeah, I hear you. So I hear you.

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Ressa 17:31
So I want to talk a little bit about, that was a great perspective on the restaurant industry. And the changes in the evolution, what’s going on. I want to talk a little bit about Danny Boy’s. So tell me how this evolved and how Danny Boy’s Famous Original Pizza ended up in Los Angeles. And I hope, do you have like, do you have some thin New York style pizza? They’re gonna get that.

Holtzman 18:02
We have what I would consider like, you know, when you think about food on offense, authenticity is a weird word with food because it’s constantly shifting. So I think authenticity, you have to pick up moment in time and say it’s authentic to this space in this time. So I think that we have, our pizzeria is authentic to like 90s New York City pizzeria. But it’s not really because I think the pizza is a little further evolved quality wise than what what most places were doing at that time, as far as like the understanding of fermentation and stuff of that nature.

So I think the crust is a little bit like, more mature than maybe you would find, but it’s a traditional New York City pizzeria like that. You know, when I was listening to like, the Beastie Boys, I would have been, I would have been eating for, you know, on my bicycle on my way to high school.

Ressa 18:50
Got it? Okay, so give me the story. How did how did? How did Danny Boys give it some everything? What were you doing? And how did Danny boys end up?

Holtzman 19:01
I found I found myself a little bit of cash in my pocket. And I moved out to Los Angeles to be close to my family, my wife and I were ready to kind of like step away from New York City. I had hired a CEO to run the meatball shop, and it was tough for me to have been so intimately in control of the business, and then all of a sudden kind of give up control and not be tempted to micromanage.

So I thought a little bit of space was in order, but also a bit of challenge with just the politics of New York City opening a restaurant I needed to I needed a change of scenery. LA is in a more difficult place to open and operate a restaurant than New York in my short experience, but it’s a different type of challenge.

And anytime there’s a challenge it’s fun to learn and overcome. So like I needed a change of scenery. And I moved out here and I was feeling a little bit uncertain of exactly what I wanted to do. And the pizzeria was a bid was like an interim project, you know, it was like, What can I do that I was just running this business that had a ton of employees.

And I was kind of Adam on a managerial level three, you know, chain members, separate from the actual customer. And it wasn’t that much fun than I had kind of lost a little bit of the magical experience of what’s so wonderful about a restaurant, like the feedback loop of I make this food and I feed it to somebody and I see their face and they like it, they thank me, I get their money. And I feel like I’ve accomplished something, actually, I cleaned my hands and I started Ghana.

And like, every day, I get to see 1000 of those like closed loops, whereas every other business is such a, such a slog, like very hard to ever find yourself having accomplished anything seems like challenging. So sitting in LA without not without, you know, real, really, really soon, with no certainty of exactly what I wanted to do.

But, you know, knowing that the restaurant business is something I was familiar and comfortable with, I was looking at maybe maybe buying a building and trying to open something a little bit a little bit bigger. The LA market, it takes like three years to, to to turn a restaurant around here, it’s really challenging timewise from permitting perspective, just challenging.

It can take longer can take them shorter, shorter, but and so the pizzeria seemed like a little bit more of a manageable project bite size, something that I could physically manage myself hire everybody make the food, you know, really have the experience of being in touch with the, the, the energy of the restaurant on a personal level. And so I set out looking for a looking looking for a pizzeria.

The challenge is that, you know, New York City supports the pizzerias because of the foot traffic, right. It’s like it’s just a slice, you grab a slice, because the snack, it’s a meal, it’s a, it fills so many kinds of purposes. La has tacos for that, you know, tacos are the pizza of valet. And there aren’t a ton of kind of high foot traffic areas that might support a by the slice operation, you got to sell a lot of pizzas, pizza by the slice to kind of to feed your family.

And so, you know, I hired a real estate broker who, you know, is just phenomenal. She she’s the, I think the top real estate, you know, restaurant real estate person in Los Angeles, maybe in the country, you know, from, from, from a service perspective, she just knows every single corner on every block, she’s intimately familiar with every landlord. She’s, she’s really great so called the 33 group. Rachel Rosenberg is her name. And she felt like all the Chipotle is in LA or something like that.

And for helped build one of those look kind of like big real estate companies, you know, California and Los Angeles portfolio that stepped out on her own. She has a small company. But if you’re in the restaurant world and you want to space, I’d say, you know, she understands. As a New Yorker, I understand the how it works. But outside of New York, I don’t know how to navigate why one space is better than the other la all looks like a one big strip mall.

And it’s very hard to decipher why one’s cool and one’s not they all kind of look the same and challenging to understand how the traffic patterns give more visibility to one location over another. So I kind of put myself in her hands and I said, Look, I think I want to do this pizzeria and where should I put it. And she had been working on this project.

For Brookfield properties, downtown Los Angeles, they had just recently kind of put a ton of cash into cleaning up a huge atrium and one of the bigger building complexes downtown. there that had been a kind of a food court food hall that had California Pizza Kitchen and McDonald’s and I think they wanted to see a change and maybe an update. And so she said they were looking for a pizzeria and it could be perfect because the foot traffic etc.

And so I said about meeting with them and I had in my entire experience of working in restaurants never wanted to work in a in a mall. I never wanted to be part of a project where I where where I had to rely on other people to attract foot traffic and I couldn’t succeed on my own. I was just scared of that responsive you know putting that responsibility and trust in somebody else.

You know if you’re in a mall you’re saying you know the mall pay you pay a lot because we’re seeing we’re gonna bring new people, but if they screw up when they stop bringing new people, like, you’re kind of screwed, there’s nothing you can really do about it. So I was very nervous about that. But looking at it and spending time down there, it was, it’s just a Gangbuster location. I mean, it’s like, it’d be like, if you could open up a restaurant in midtown Manhattan, you’re like, there’s just so many people here.

This was a little bit before the pandemic made office life less exciting. So I, I worked with them. And we negotiated a really wonderful lease that Brookfield has been amazing to work with. It’s a big company, which I was also nervous about, you know, but I’ve had consistent contact there.

And I was like, I think feel like I’m gonna make a deal with somebody that somebody else could show. I’m gonna have, like, no idea who they are. But I’ve had really consistent contacts, and they’ve been great. And, and so I signed a lease, and then we started construction. And then with the pandemic, kind of starting, we hit pause, for like, a year and a half or something like that. Was pretty, pretty intense. Wow.

Ressa 26:11
Why did you hit pause?

Holtzman 26:13
Because, you know, when I say we, this is a corporate location. And this is where we’re at the base of corporate office building, we don’t, we’re not actually on the street. So the only way to get to our restaurant is, is through this atrium. And that at the base of this, these Japanese two giant office towers, and the atrium was was was closed to the public and within like a, you know, half mile radius, there’s no residential.

So it would be like, Oprah trying to open a restaurant, you know, there was it was like crickets and tumbleweeds there was not a soul and said, I was the only person there, it was incredible. Like, they had some security people in, in some of the outside, but I would roam around downtown LA, like there’s downtown that you see on the news, where it’s like tent villages and like homeless people, you know, taking drugs and crime adult streets.

That’s, that’s this is I’m up a hill from there where, you know, only a very industrious and hardworking, you know, criminal would would would climb the stairs to go rob someone, and there’s no one up there. So it’s just empty. And nobody there.

Ressa 27:20
Wow. So what time period did you take the pause?

Holtzman 27:28
At the very beginning of the pandemic, you know, when it when it became I was, I was planning on opening, I don’t remember the date, but like, I was planning on opening in like, July, I think the pandemic happened in like May, or something like that. So I stopped in and we had a fully built out restaurant. And I just stopped so we’re not gonna we can open. And then, you know, was like, some kind of letter to the investors been like, we’re just gonna do a couple of weeks off, like everybody else did.

And then, you know, my timing couldn’t have been, I was just lucky, I got very lucky because we had it was we were ready to open. I hadn’t hired the team yet. The thing that I’ve learned about restaurants, the number one mistake, everybody makes, they hire their team too early. Right. So they think like, they hire, they’re, they’re eager, they hire their team too early, then construction is always delayed or something gets screwed up. You don’t get your permits, the gas doesn’t get turned on.

And so they’re like, well, we just hired our own team, we can’t fire everybody. But labor costs is the number one biggest, you know, line item on your P&L. So like division B, just earned through money’s paying for a bunch of people that you can’t utilize your they get grumpy because they got nothing to do and nothing more grumpy than employees standing around with nothing to do. And so you wind up just burning through cash for a team that ends up not working anyway.

And then when you do open, you don’t have cash for a new team and you go out of business. So I wait until like two weeks before my restaurant opens, hire my team. I just like literally two weeks before the restaurant. And everybody it feels very scary to be opening a restaurant in two weeks and having not one employee, like only having a general manager, but that’s just kind of the way you do it. These are paycheck to paycheck, people so like if you you can’t skip the paycheck and we can’t afford to pay you well, you’re not working.

And so I just didn’t have any team I was just sitting there by myself and we just didn’t open it was kind of kind of great. I mean, I’ve never normally when you open a restaurant it’s like you’re in this man you’re literally kicking the construction guys and yes when sweeping up while you’re putting food and walking here it was like I had for like two years almost to fully restaurant ready to open was great.

Ressa 29:44
Wow. And then so it was fully built out. When did you decide and what was the deciding factor to help you like alright, now’s the time.

Holtzman 29:58
You know, I kind of said well I feel like when when the last was last year in like, you know, June or something, I thought, well, if I opened in July, or maybe in May, I thought if I opened in July, I think that by September, folks are going to go back to the office, I’ll open in July, we’ll have two months of slow, kind, gentle runway. During that time, I will, you know, I’ll get to like, train my staff and learn, learn, you know, figure out what we’re doing. And then people come back to the office. So I did that.

And it seemed to work September was started, people start to come back to the office October, November was actually a decent month. And then December, we had that like, monochrome looking thing, whatever that bear varietals are a berry up on the doctor. And it was like, it was like curtains, you know, that what was crazy is, you know, we closed between Christmas and New Year’s. And then I came in, like, we had staffed up through December because it was getting busier and busier.

And I was like, Okay, we’re gonna go into January and expand our hours, it’s gonna happen, like, we came back, I was like, crickets, again, nobody there. So we had to, you know, to, to consider to make some hard decisions as far as team members were concerned, and really cut back to a skeleton crew.

And, you know, I learned early on in the restaurant world, that we are constantly. We’re constantly making excuses for ourselves and saying, Well, you know, when sales grow, you know, we’ll be able to, we’ll be able to cover these costs, and we’re just waiting for sales to grow.

But the reality is that if you’re not profitable, now, there’s no profitable in the future, you just, you just have to be, you have to be really straightforward with yourself. And you’d have to make it work at whatever numbers coming in. And so we we scaled back to just just a couple of couple of people in the kitchen.

And that was it. We we stayed open, and, you know, we broke even or lost a little bit of money for a few months. And then come February, March, it started to pick back up, and we’ve been just growing ever since it’s been very positive. Very, very positive.

Ressa 32:14
Amazing. And so backing up a little bit you you mentioned investors, what type of investors? are? Are these investors in the business? Is it family friends? Is it did you take on like private equity or something like that?

Holtzman 32:37
No, you know, these are non accredited investors. So, you know, when you go to raise money, kind of like, either have to, like put a lot of paperwork together and have like an offering that goes out to the public. Or you can have like, you know, just a smaller kind of paperwork that you put together for folks who, you know, know what they’re getting into. And it’s not like a public offering without going to a lot of people, right, but you know, like FCC, or EFS with the FCC filing.

And so, you know, I’d say it’s not quite friends and family, but, you know, an intimate circle of folks, you know, look you like I work at this restaurant right now, I got this pizzeria. There’s a bunch of law firms and a bunch of, you know, rich folks that live in the neighborhood and they come in, they’d say, hey, this pizza is delicious. Do you ever have one open another one? Let me know. I’d love to invest, then you say awesome, what’s your number?

You take their number down. And then when you’re ready to do the next one, you call them up? And you know, not all of them. A few of them come along, few of the people that you worked with in the past come along, and I think there’s a nice balance. Like you don’t want to have a huge, huge group of people. I’ll give you 10 bucks busting your chops, but you also it’s nice to have the support of a team of people that can help you.

Ressa 33:52
Yeah, for sure. So that was getting started you why? You know you mentioned the tacos or the pizza valet. You know, you’ve had you’ve been involved in a bunch of different restaurants whether it’s a French restaurant meatball by pizza

Holtzman 34:16
Something that I’m, that I love, that I’m passionate about, and something that I thought was under under represented in LA was New York style pizza. You know, I didn’t see an example of a pizza that I remember from my childhood that I love unwanted. So I thought that was an underserved market for that. Something that was fun for me to learn how to make you know really spin.

You know, when you work in and you do something working in restaurants craft right and as a craftsperson that goal is you got to you got to do it over and over and over again to get good at it. And there’s no chance that you could do enough of it as a hobby to get really great at it. Without, I guess, being a crazy person. So it was just a fun thing to spend the time to learn how to make, I was wanting to being a great baker, learning how to deal with dough. And it’s really It’s fascinating.

It’s spectacularly fun this close to alchemy as you can get now you’re you’re taking flour and water and turning it into something that’s so much trading greater than the sum of its parts. And the end my brand in general is just as I like to, I like to feed people great food at a at a fair price. It’s it’s just something there’s something I was I didn’t have a lot of dough as a kid. And my papa was a woodworker.

And we had to go through the service entrance of buildings, and I hated the I hated being a second class citizen and not having access to great quality. And watching the folks, the haves have so much more than the have nots and pizzas of opportunity where I can say listen, like, literally I can, I can pay, you can pay me the same amount as like as like firemen and Bill Gates get to pay the same amount and get the same quality. And it’s both and it’s been it’s it’s best in class. And that’s wonderful.

Ressa 36:05
Excellent, man. Excellent. So now, you know, we’re in 2022, the restaurants still doing well.

Holtzman 36:16
The restaurant is now finally doing really well it worked, you know where the the p&l looks great, it’s very healthy. You know, now it’s a question of whether we want to when we are ready, and whether we want to grow the business, or whether we’re happy having one location, which, you know, is a really nice position to be when you take the capital from, you know, an outside source, you are, you’re, you’re pressured because your interests aren’t always aligned.

As a restaurant owner, you know, I can make, you know, whatever it is a reasonably fair living, certainly by most Americans, really good living standard living from one restaurant, and I can I can work there and, and I can have a nice life. And I can push myself and open another one and make more and have more fun.

But challenges come with that. And then when you have institutional money behind you, you don’t really have a choice, because their interest is only fulfilled if if you if you grow fast enough to you know, outpace their their investment horizon, which is challenge. So it’s nice to be in a position to say, I’m in a position where I can open another one. And I might not want to. So that’s kind of fun.

Ressa 37:34
Very cool. So that said, Are you still invested in the in the restaurants that are? San Francisco, the East Coast? Are you out of those?

Holtzman 37:49
Yeah, no, no, I haven’t peaceable. Absolutely, absolutely.

Ressa 37:54
And are you? Do you think there’s opportunity for more Danny Boy’s?

Holtzman 38:01
Yeah, I think that there’s definitely an opportunity. I mean, I know that there’s opportunity for it. I think that without you know, I don’t want to be like a braggart or anything. I’m very, very proud of the quality of the product we’re putting out. I think it’s best in class. And, and I think that it’s recognized that way already. I mean, people are really, really, really offer a lot of positive feedback. The pizza business is a business that works.

It works in all economies. It works for, for for it works for delivery, it works for dine in. It works in small towns, and it works in big cities. So there’s no question that I would like to see that. I see that as an opportunity. It’s just a question of what I’m trying to understand for myself exactly what I want to be doing every single day. I know I don’t want to sit in an office. And so I don’t want to put myself in that position.

Ressa 38:53
Excellent, man. Well, great story. excited that the restaurant is doing well. When I’m in LA, I’m definitely gonna get there. What’s the hottest pizza right now? Is it plain pizza? What’s the hottest pizza right now?

Holtzman 39:13
The hottest pizza genre right now. I think square, square, you know, the square slices right now, people are into the precocious square slice with that double pat, you know, copying pepperoni, that’s what the hottest beats on the market. Interesting. You know, that’s where Prince beats in New York really put a put their flag in the ground and starting to expand everybody.

Everybody kind of discovered this pan pizza, thick pan pizza, Detroit style pizza, thick, you know, risen for hours, double baked, a lot of cheese a lot of pepperoni. Pepperoni pizza outsells cheese pizza three to one in LA. Wow. Yeah.

Ressa 39:54
Why is that?

Holtzman 39:57
I think because it’s absolutely delicious. And I think that the tradition of pizza doesn’t exist in the same way as it did in New York. You know, pizza by the slice was invented in New York, so it’s really a New York thing, New York has a special and then as the Italian, the Aspera kind of spread out, they changed the taste of the pizza based on local tastes and using local ingredients, and by the time it gets to La it’s very, it’s a big game of telephone.

So there’s been a lot of iteration between, and the folks in LA, I love pepperoni, and pepperoni tastes good, and there isn’t like a pure, there’s no, New York is a little bit puritanical about its pizza. LA is not.

Ressa 40:50
Got it. Well, listen, man. I really I’ve enjoyed hearing your story. You know, it’s funny, you mentioned Brookfield, I didn’t know they were your landlord, know Brookfield pretty well, and you know, we’re smaller than Brookfield, but we’re in the same business as Brookfield.

So to give you some context of what I do. And listen, this has been great. You’ve, I think you’ve given a lot of insight on the restaurant industry. And you know, what it was like and some of the challenges in opening a store, a restaurant in the middle of a global pandemic. So, kudos to you. And when I get out there, I gotta come try a slice, a hot pie, man.

Holtzman 41:40
Good to see you. Reserve one of those spots in Jersey for Danny Boy’s. You know, I hear I hear you got some real estate opportunities.

Ressa 41:51
Yeah, man. All right, man. Take care.

Holtzman 41:54
Thank you so much.

Thank you for listening to Retail Retold. If you want to share a story about a retail real estate deal that you were a part of on our show, please reach out to us at This show highlights the stories behind the deals from all perspectives. So it doesn’t matter if you are a retailer, broker, entrepreneur, architect or an attorney Also don’t forget to subscribe to Retail Retold so you don’t miss out on next Thursday’s episode.

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